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October 2009

Will Google seek DOJ approval of any Twitter agreement?

Reuters reports that Twitter is in talks with Google and Microsoft about "licensing its data feed to the companies search engines."

If a Google-Twitter agreement materializes, surely the DOJ will want to review any proposed Google-Twitter agreement for antitrust issues.

See Great Barrons Editorial Against Net Neutrality

Please read Tom Donlan's great Barrons editorial against the FCC's proposed net neutrality rules entitled "A Rule Too Far."

Some highlights:

"Unfortunately, the agency is anticipating imaginary problems. Genachowski should ask three questions:

  • Is this favoring really happening? Answer, rarely. It's not an important issue now.
  • Would this be bad for consumers if it were happening? Answer, certainly not.
  • Should the FCC have the power to control private wired networks? Answer, absolutely not, the First Amendment's protection of press freedom ought to forbid it."

"...Their simple answer could be to charge the content providers for expedited service, and charge more to those who burden scarce bandwidth in the last mile.

My New Op-ed: "The Internet as the Post Office?"

I produced a new, brief, and different op-ed against the FCC's proposed net neutrality rules that ran in today, that employs a new "delivery" metaphor that I believe most people will easily grasp and find compelling.   

The Internet as the Post Office?

by Scott Cleland

Why force the private Internet to be as inefficient as the old public post office? For the first time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to regulate how private companies can deliver the quadrillions of broadband Internet packets that are sent over the Internet every day.


Americans know from experience that private companies competing for customers deliver better service than Government. Who thinks the Government can do a better job than private companies in designing, building, and managing broadband Internet networks? Who thinks the Government can run the Internet better, faster, cheaper, and more innovatively than private networks do now?

How Can FCC Exempt Largest Internet Network from Network Neutrality Regulation? Oh its Google...

If the FCC's proposed Open Internet regulations turn out to be "fair" and "fact-based" as promised, the FCC won't be able to gerrymander a "network" definition that allows Google, -- the world's largest and fastest-growing Internet network per Arbor Networks' new study -- to escape from new FCC net neutrality regulation.

The facts that Google should be subject to any "fair" network neutrality regulations are overwhelming.

First, according to a just-announced Arbor Networks study, the single "largest study of global Internet traffic since the start of the commercial Internet," (involving the top 100+ ISPs, including Google)... 

Why FCC Net Neutrality Regs Do NOT Preserve Status Quo

If WSJ reports are correct about the FCC's new proposed net neutrality rules, they are not at all about "preserving" the status quo, but actually would represent a radical change from longstanding law, policy and precedent.

  • Per the WSJ: "Under Mr. Genachowski's proposal, the FCC would change its current net-neutrality guidance, which details consumers' online rights, and focus instead on what Internet service providers are not allowed to do." 

If this description is true, the proposed regulations would not be status quo at all because they would:

  • Flip from being all about what consumers can do, do being all about what ISPs cannot do; 
  • Abandon over fifteen years of bipartisan consensus in Congress around not regulating or taxing the Internet;
  • Abandon five years of bipartisan consensus and 5-0 FCC precedents to treat Internet access as an un-rregulated information service; and 
  • Reverse longstanding law, policy and precedent to promote competition and reduce regulation with a new policy that promotes regulation and reduces competition. 

If the FCC's rules emerge as reported, this is not at all about "preserving" anything, its about radically changing an Internet ecosystem that currently works and serves consumers exceptionally well.





Google Buying Akamai? GooglesNet Replacing Internet? A closed dark fiber shadow of an Open Internet?

The much under-appreciated trend is how rapidly much of the Internet is effectively being supplanted by "GooglesNet," given that Google's data-centers uniquely and constantly capture and store current copies of the Internet's roughly trillion web-pages. GooglesNet is not transparent and is increasingly becoming a closed dark fiber shadow of the "Open Internet."

FCC Is Already Chilling Smart Network Innovation

The most basic smart network innovation and obviously reasonable network management is already being chilled by the FCC's expected absolute ban on any Internet traffic prioritization.

  • Light Reading reports: "Cox shuts down Net Congestion Tests"
    • "Cox launched the trials in February, testing out a system developed internally that puts traffic into "time-sensitive" (e.g., Web pages, voice calls, streaming video), and "non-time-sensitive" (e.g., file uploads, peer-to-peer, and Usenet) buckets. As designed, the congestion management system temporarily delays upstream, non-time-sensitive traffic whenever network congestion is detected. Cox, which limited the test to residential high-speed Internet subs, insisted that any delays were on the order of seconds or subseconds -- not enough for customers to really notice."  
  • Multichannel News reports: "Cox Wraps Internet Congestion Management Test -- Operator Plans to Submit findings to FCC as Part of Network Neutrality Rulemaking Process"
    • "...the operator is no longer managing traffic based on application type in Kansas/Arkansas and has no plans to deploy the congestion-management system right now."

Who thinks it is not "smart" or "reasonable" to prioritize time-sensitive traffic over non-time-sensitive traffic? 

72 House Democrats' Letter Urges FCC "to avoid tentative conclusions which favor government regulation"

72 House Democrats wrote the FCC pushing back on the direction the FCC apparently is headed in its proposed Open Internet/net neutrality regulations to be voted on October 22nd. From the letter:

  • "... it is out strong belief that continued progress in expanding the reach and capabilities of broadband networks will require the Commission to reiterate, not repudiate its historic committment to competition, private investment, and a restrained regulatory approach."
  • "We are confident that an objective review of the facts will reveal the critical role that competition and private investment have played -- and of necessity will continue to play -- in building robust broadband networks that are safe, secure and open."
  • "In light of the growth and innovation in new applications that the current regime has enabled, as compared to the limited evidence demonstrating any tangible harm, we would urge you to avoid tentative conclusions which favor government regulation."
  • "...we remain suspicious of conclusions based on slogans rather than substance and of policies that restrict and inhibit the very innovation and growth that we all seek to achieve." 

It was signed by the 72 House Democrats listed below:

72 Signers: 

Is Google News neutral on net neutrality?

Pasted below is a copy of Google News listing from today that highlights only a very Google-friendly quote from Gigi Sohn in a slew of articles that are tough on Google's top public policy priority -- net neutrality.

  • Is this coincidence?
  • Is this a one time instance or mistake?
  • Or is Google using Google News as an undisclosed advocacy arm of Google?
  • It certainly wouldn't be neutral or transparent if Google is using Google News to promote its side of a pet and controversial public policy priority without any disclosure... 

I wonder what Google's explanation of this potential problem is... or if anyone at the FCC is interested in learning more about how Google programs its Google News algorithm...


Open Un-Neutrality – Will FCC Re-Distribute Internet Opportunity? For Consumers? Businesses? Investors?

In effectively reversing fifteen-year bipartisan U.S. communications policy from promoting competition and reducing regulation to promoting regulation and reducing competition, the FCC’s coming “Open Internet” regulations are anything but neutral; they pick sides and strongly skew outcomes.

  • First, the FCC is proposing new preemptive business bans mid-game, the harshest most disruptive form of economic regulation possible.
  • Second, the FCC is arbitrarily discriminating among increasingly similar and converging businesses resulting in the arbitrary punishment of some businesses for what they allegedly might do, while rewarding others with protection from competition for what they allegedly might not do.
  • Third, the FCC is arbitrarily mandating one-way technology convergence without any supportable justification, i.e. banning distribution convergence into applications/content, while encouraging application/content convergence into distribution.